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  • Writer's pictureHarold

Port Charlotte Trio

Today I’m looking at the early days of Bruichladdich’s modern revival; checking out three different vintages of 14 year old, full matured, sherried Port Charlotte. I’d be interested to find out more about the experimenting that was done during this period, between finding the right ppm levels, cut points and fermentation times to develop their “heavily peated” brand. I’d also love to see how that differs from the Octomore side of things since there tends to be some definite uniqueness between the two styles.

 
Port Charlotte (Duncan Taylor) 2003/14 Year |Rare Auld| Sherry Cask #97610 - 52.8%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Port Charlotte (Duncan Taylor) 2003/14 Year |Rare Auld|

Sherry Cask 97610 - 52.8%


“Aged in oak casks” is the epitome of saying “don’t worry about it” on a label, these days. Duncan Taylor is a habitual culprit of this sort of ignorant labelling which, I’m sure is purely for legal reasons, but just annoys the heck out of me.


Appearance: Mahogany

First Whiff: Sweet mesquite flavored woodchips.

Nose: Peat reek, burnt embers soaked in dry, sour citrus juice. Classic sherry/peat combo here but with the farmy/ashy side of Laddie’s peated spirit.

Palate: Firm. Harsh at first with some pretty intense bonfire ash, burnt tire rubber notes. Tart citrus, fresh squeezed lemon, grapefruit, warm lemonade. There’s a mild fishiness towards the end, like a grilled Branzino. With water: Chunks it up a bit but remains on the ashy/sour citrus side. There’s a little tart, red apple...some SweeTARTS candy (parma violets) and Lemonheads too.

Finish: Short, sharp…piercing. Citrus implosion. With water: Not much difference.


Summary: Obviously unbalanced, and perhaps bottled a bit early. Tasted even younger than a 14-year-old, at times. I would guess this came from a refill cask, but that sort of information seems to be irrelevant to some.

IDS SCORE: 85

 
Port Charlotte (Dramfool) 2004/14 Year | Fèis Ìle 2019 | 1st Fill Sherry Hogshead – 53.4%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Port Charlotte (Dramfool)

2004/14 Year |Fèis Ìle 2019|

1st Fill Sherry Hogshead – 53.4%


A well-behaved hogshead, to be able to produce 299 bottles AND give the angels a proper cut, assuming it was casked at the standard 63.5%. Bottled for the Fèis, back in 2019, so we know Bruce must’ve thought pretty highly of this one, of course.


Appearance: Burnt umber, clean oloroso sherry.

First Whiff: Sweet peat…smoked lox covered in raspberry jam.

Nose: Sour…vegetal style of peat up front like a woefully ignored, decaying vegetable garden. Caramel woodiness with mineral…ripe citrus notes like fresh lemons/limes. With water: Straight campfire woodsmoke.

Palate: Velvety and slick. Slightly on the hotter side, but well integrated alcohol, for me at least. Like a warm coal blanket. Mineral still, and slightly salinic…salty citrus notes like grapefruits and overripe mangos that’ve been sitting in the fridge for too long. Some milk chocolate/caramel nougat carry the sherry forward with some cedar wood and liquorice towards the end. With water: Slightly chunkier, sweeter citrus.

Finish: Long, developing and cinnamon-y. Bitter towards the back but not drying. Slightly chalky.


Summary: Takes well to water and airtime but even without the H2O, it's an easy sipper for the ashy/coal loving peat heads amongst us. The farmy Laddie DNA tends to fight through well when it’s amped up to Port Charlotte levels.

IDS SCORE: 91


 
Port Charlotte (Single Cask Nation) 2002/14 Year - 1st Fill Oloroso Hogshead #1142 – 60.2%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Port Charlotte (Single Cask Nation) 2002/14 Year - 1st Fill Oloroso Hogshead 1142 – 60.2%


Contrary to the Dramfool bottling, this one was not so giving to the angels, while retaining 264 bottles from its 1st fill hogshead, full maturation. Given today’s pricing of a bottle of this caliber, it’s hard to believe the guys at SCN were able to bring this to the States for a mere $125, only 6 years ago.


Appearance: Burnt umber/Old oak.

First Whiff: Taking a sip of coke after chewing on a Big Red.

Nose: Tingling spices, cola cubes. Grassy, tomato stem style peat with a slight dark chocolate bitterness. Salty, umami, oily turkey gravy.

Palate: Heat upfront, as expected. A metallic and leathery wave of peat coats the mouth…like latex band aids and tools from a dental hygienist’s office mixed with a cocoa dusted cedarwood and dark molasses-soaked cotton swabs. With water: Way more palatable…smokey liquorice, anise and fennel comes through. More of a root beer style now.

Finish: Peppery, long and numbing. Firm, earthy tobacco smoke lingers away.


Summary: I never like to discredit an IB for bottling something at cask strength, since they’re essentially letting us decide our own drinking strength. That said, I did need some water to really fight through at first, but once added it brought out a great deal of the wood. The PC was a little left behind, at times though.

IDS SCORE: 88

 

Port Charlotte Trio

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